Zimmerman trial may hinge on whose screams were heard in call to 911

2013-07-06T00:00:00Z Zimmerman trial may hinge on whose screams were heard in call to 911The Associated Press The Associated Press
July 06, 2013 12:00 am  • 

SANFORD, Fla. - The mothers of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman listened Friday to the same 911 recording of someone screaming for help, and each said she was convinced the voice was that of her own son.

The starkly conflicting testimony over the potentially crucial piece of evidence came midway through Zimmerman's murder trial in the 2012 shooting of the unarmed teenager.

"I heard my son screaming," Sybrina Fulton, Martin's mother, said after she was played a recording in which distant, high-pitched wails could be heard in the background as a Zimmerman neighbor asked a dispatcher to send police. Moments later on the call, there was a gunshot and the crying stopped.

Gladys Zimmerman, though, testified she recognized the voice all too well: "My son." Asked how she could be certain, she said: "Because it's my son."

The testimony came on a dramatic day in which the prosecution rested its case and the judge rejected a defense request to acquit Zimmerman on the second-degree-murder charge.

The question of whose voice is on the recording could be crucial to the jury in deciding who was the aggressor in the confrontation between the neighborhood watch volunteer and the teenager.

The identity of the person sharply divided the two families: Martin's half brother, 22-year-old Jahvaris Fulton, testified that the cries came from the teen. And Zimmerman's uncle, Jose Meza, said he knew it was Zimmerman's voice from "the moment I heard it. ... I thought, that is George."

The doctor who performed an autopsy on Martin also took the stand. Associate Medical Examiner Shiping Bao started describing Martin as being in pain and suffering after he was shot, but defense attorneys objected and the judge directed Bao away from that line of questioning.

He later estimated that Martin lived one to 10 minutes after he was shot, and said the bullet went from the front to the back of the teen's chest, piercing his heart.

"There was no chance he could survive," Bao said.

With jurors out of the courtroom, Bao acknowledged under defense questioning he had changed his opinion in recent weeks on two matters related to the teen's death - how long Martin was alive after being shot and the effect of marijuana detected in Martin's body at the time of his death.

The prosecution rested after calling 38 witnesses over two weeks. Defense attorney Mark O'Mara promptly asked the judge to acquit Zimmerman, arguing the prosecution had failed to prove its case.

O'Mara said an "enormous" amount of evidence showed that Zimmerman acted in self-defense, and he argued that Zimmerman had reasonable grounds to believe he was in danger, and acted without the "ill will, hatred and spite" necessary to prove second-degree murder.

But prosecutor Richard Mantei countered: "There are two people involved here. One of them is dead, and one of them is a liar."

After listening to an hour and a half of arguments from both sides, Judge Debra Nelson refused to throw out the murder charge.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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